Prior to COVID, we transitioned Huxley into daycare.
When it comes to child care - there are a few options, and it’s super important that you choose child care that will fit your child’s needs and your needs BEST.
We decided to go with home daycare. Originally he was enrolled in a larger centre close to my previous workplace, but they called me about 2 months before he was supposed to go to daycare to let me know the building was being torn down and there was no longer a place for him. This was incredibly stressful. I already felt sad that I was going to be without him daily, and adding stress to having to find a new daycare in Toronto at a reasonable price was really hard.
I will say, the support of my local mom Facebook group really saved the day. We found an amazing home daycare with 6 other children. I went for an in-person meet and greet with the owner and I knew this would be a safe place and a growing place for Huxley. Looking back now, putting Huxley in daycare was by far the best choice I've made for him. I know that moving forward with two children, daycare is going to be difficult to afford, but we hope to be able to make it work for both children. Between the socialization he gets and the structure of learning and playing - I've seen his development skyrocket, and I just don't think I could ever provide that amount of stimulation and opportunity for development. Is daycare expensive: YES. Especially in Toronto. Our's is on the MUCH more reasonable end...but for large centres you are looking at around $2000-$2500 a month for one child. This is why it is very important that you ensure the daycare you choose is going to be a good fit for you.
(Huxley's first birthday at daycare. They had a little party for him and I brought in mini carrot muffins for everyone as a snack)
I'm no pro - I've only done this once hahaha, but I have a few tips or pieces of advice that might help you as you decide to put your child in daycare or make that transition.
(He needs a haircut...I know)
The First Week Is Hard - Maybe?
The first week was the worst week for me. The owner of Huxley's daycare saw me walk out after drop off bawling my eyes out. Huxley cried at drop off for the first two weeks or so, and I found the first few times really upsetting and difficult. It got easier. For about two weeks prior to sending him to daycare I felt like I was being robbed of my time with Huxley, but a major part of me wanted to go back to work and have my adult life back. I felt sad, angry, and anxious.
Some mom's might find the transition into daycare a breeze. I did not. I felt sad leaving Huxley - but when I saw him at pick up excited to see me and then the photos and updates of what he did that day, I felt so happy we were giving him this opportunity. You just have to allow yourself go through the emotions, and soon enough you will realize daycare is a great decision! Feeling sad, anxious, and angry are all completely normal. If you're a Canadian who took mat leave, you might just be coming off a 12-month or 18-month mat leave...that's a long time to spend with your baby to go to not seeing them 5 days a week 8 hours a day.
Most Daycares Have A Transition Schedule (but not during covid)
We were lucky when we started that we had a transition schedule. HOWEVER, Huxley got really sick before he started. He had a high fever, and bronchiolitis...so we missed a huge chunk of that. I think we just threw him in there for half days for 3 days or something and then he was all in. I guess it depends on your daycare's covid protocol and when your child will be going to daycare, but in normal circumstances, your child will ease into daycare.
I actually stressed about Huxley's nap schedule SO MUCH. Did I need to get him on the daycare's nap schedule before he got there? What would happen if he didn't nap at daycare? There's no way he will nap in a playpen - he hates them. I had a lot of questions and ideas floating through my head about this LOL.
Huxley at the time, had two naps a day. They were fairly consistent, but definitely not on the same schedule as daycare. They assured me that he would be tired out by all the activities and he would sleep no problem.
He survived. After a month or so he stopped napping in the morning (probably because he had FOMO) and started having just a two hour nap in the afternoon...in the playpen. I worried for absolutely nothing.
Don't Send Your Kid To Daycare In Their Sunday Best
They will get stained, soiled, and dirty. That is all.
Things You Will Need To Leave At Daycare Or Bring Every Day
There are a few things you may want to bring to daycare to leave there. Just remember what you bring and leave so you can swap them out with a new item and wash them at home. Here are some things we have left at daycare, but keep in mind, all daycares have different protocols:
blanket or stuffy for naps
medication you have signed a waiver for (so the staff can administer it). We leave Benedryl, tylenol (i think) and an Epi-pen for Huxley because he has allergies
Diapers and Wipes
A change of clothes (your child will pee or poop their pants at some point)
bathing suit/rash guard if your daycare does water activities
Spare mitts/hat for winter
Put Your Child's Name On Everything
I bought a pack of labels from Mabel's Labels and put Huxley's name on EVERYTHING! Shoes, clothing, sippy cup...everything. When there are multiple children involved it's very easy for things to get mixed up!
When One Kid Gets Sick - Everyone Gets Sick (including you)
Be prepared. Flu season is coming.
Again, every daycare is different. Especially with Covid. Just be responsible. Huxley got sick a few weeks ago, and before we brought him back to daycare, we went to the paediatrician, then we went for a covid swab, then we waited for results, then we waited 48 hours.
Prior to covid, the rule was fever or diarrhea...no daycare. But everyone is taking extra precaution. So far (KNOCK ON WOOD) Huxley has only gotten sick once since starting daycare...but everyone has been self-isolating. I expect things to change come the fall.
Expect To Pay Your Monthly Fee When You Take Your Child Out For Vacation Or Because They Are Sick
I shouldn't have to expand on this - but daycares are already grossly underpaid for what they do. Paying for daycare is a MAJOR chunk of my pay...but when you think about what they do and how far stretched that money is...you realize that it's not much for them. Just because you take your child out to go on vacation or because they are sick does not mean you don't have to pay.
A Few Things You May Want to Consider Buying (Buy used when you can!!)
A hat for summer
clothing to leave at daycare
medications for daycare (check with them first)
Sippy cup for daycare (check with them)
Items for nap time
Warm clothing that can be layered
Splash pants or muddy buddy suit
warm, waterproof mittens
indoor shoes (if you want. Huxley wears minimocs at daycare in the colder months)
Outdoor shoes (for the summer i love Natives)
We got Huxley a mini Fjallraven for daycare which has been perfect for keeping items that come home with us at night
I hope this helps a few parents who are anxious about sending their child to daycare. Bryon and I couldn't be happier with our decision and we have seen some HUGE developments with Huxley that I don't think we would have seen had we decided not to send him :)